March 12, 2013 Subject:
More of a Cultural Document of the Times
Yeah, what picfixer below said. This is a Cultural Document of the times in which it was filmed than anythimg else. It is hardly a biography of Jack London. In the intro to this 1945 film, he is called a Great American. Less than 4 years later he was condemned as a commie-socialist-pinko, which he admittedly was -- but not in those terms -- and his books were removed from many libraries and schools.
C'mon, man. It opens with Jack, a factory worker in the 1890s, comes home after walking off his lousy, dangerous job to complain about it to his BLACK MAID? And he actually gets sympathy and advice from her. THEN HE ASKS TO BORROW MONEY FROM HER. Man, we were so naive, gullible, and racist in 1945.
If you want a biography of Jack London, there are plenty of good books on him, his personal life, his skills as a writer, his adventures into the Pacific with his wife and crew on the Snark, and his politics, his alcoholism, and his controversial death near Sonoma, California at the local library.
I wouldn't use this film as anything other than entertainment and as a contemporary cultural document -- a product of America, 1945. There is also source documents some of his writings at Project Gutenburg and here at the Internet Archive. If you want a good, detailed primer on his life, look him up at Wikipedia.
Technically, the 512Kb MPEG4 download is a little soft, even blurry, but watchable. The soundtrack is good.
It's a pretty good film and naively states a liberal case for worker's rights and other things Jack was into.
Let's see: Oyster pirate, check; hobo, check; studied at UC Berkeley, check; sailor, check; prospector, check; war correspondent; check. He was also the highest paid author at one period in his life. He also wrote about the benefits of the eight hour day, safer working conditions and Socialism. He fought hard against child labor. But it didn't happen the way it did in the film. Or maybe it eas just O'Shea's bad acting.
Forgive me, but I really think Michael O'Shea is a lousy actor and I've never seen one performance by him that I could watch without cringing. He seems disengenuous, false. I especially hate it when he attempts to portray one of my heros. Makes me sick. I even think that he hurts Hayward's performance in this film.
Thank you IA, I appreciate all you do, but this one gets only three stars. One for being in fairly good condition, one for its value as a contemporary cultural document, and one for the performances of everyone in this film except Michael O'Shea.
July 12, 2010 Subject:
Will the real Jack London please stand up?
Unfortunately, you won't find him in this highly romanticized pseudo-biography that is more fiction than fact. The few facts that are presented are heavily distorted, but I suppose this could be partially forgiven if the movie was any good. Worthy production values and a good cast that includes Louise Beavers are largely wasted. Michael O'Shea tries his best in the title role, but the histrionics-loaded screenplay makes his task impossible. Streams of turgid dialog are occasionally spiced with brief appearances by three flavors of eye candy - Virginia Mayo, Susan Hayward and Osa Massen as a Byron and Shelly spouting Greek saloon girl with a Danish accent. (yikes!) The last third of this pretend-biopic is an over-the-top, anti-Japanese propaganda piece. Too Bad. Jack London's real story would have made a fascinating movie. This print is mostly glitch free, but the image quality is only fair. Some might call it poor. FOOTNOTE: If you're curious to see just how far this film differs from the truth, there are many Jack London biographies on the net. Here is a link to one of them that's brief but accurate: